CHINA. Austrian crystal producer Swarovski has introduced a new augmented reality store concept in Chengdu following a successful initial launch on London’s Oxford Street.

Launched just before the Chinese Lunar New Year, the brand aimed to attract digital-savvy Chinese consumers, who make up its biggest market.

Austrian crystal producer Swarovski took its new AR store concept to Chengdu, hoping to attract the Chinese consumers who make up its biggest market.

According to Jing Daily*, a content partner of The Moodie Davitt Report, no-one can miss the Swarovski “forerunner” store located in Sino Ocean Taikoo Li shopping centre in Chengdu, China. A twisted sculpture of gold and silver bracelets, each draped with sparkling lucky charms, hangs in the display window and welcomes customers. Multiple interactive screens, which at first look like mirrors, are located inside.

“Just stand in front of one, and virtually try on everything Swarovski, from earrings and necklaces to bracelets and rings, or snap a selfie with fun Swarovski stickers to share with friends,” Jing Daily commented. “Afterward, there’s still the stairway, encrusted with over 10,000 Swarovski crystals, which makes heading up to the second level feel like you’re climbing into a sparkling Disneyland of crystals and light.”

At the grand opening in Chengdu (from left to right): Swarovski Consumer Goods Business CEO Robert Buchbauer; Swarovski Asia Spokeswoman Jiang Shuying; Swarovski Executive Vice President Marketing Joan Ng; and Managing Director of China Judith Sun.

While it’s common for beauty stores like Sephora to add augmented reality screens that use facial recognition to enable customers to virtually try on different products, it’s still rare in other industries. As an early adopter, Swarovski is eyeing something bigger – by experimenting with how customers interact with products, the brand can understand their changing preferences and buying trends, as well as making checking out seamless.

In an exclusive interview with Jing Daily, Executive Vice President, Global Marketing Joan Ng spoke about reaching Chinese consumers, who are a unique and important segment for the brand, and how Swarovski has had to adapt to achieve this. She also discussed why digital strategy is an integrated element of the brand’s identity.

Swarovski Executive Vice President, Global Marketing Joan Ng.

China has always been the testing ground for the brand; it was one of the first markets that the brand chose to launch a fine jewellery line in 2012. In 2017, China surpassed the USA to become the biggest market. How important is this market?

China is Swarovski’s biggest and most important market. Given this, we will continue to launch more and more innovative products there to meet the consumers’ growing needs. Our attention in the China market will not change.

How has the brand adapted to this ever-changing market?

Swarovski was one of the earliest brands to proactively explore digital channels, including digital communication, social platforms communication, and e-commerce business. This has been reflected in our consumer profile – of which millennials are becoming a bigger proportion  –  so that our brand image stays rejuvenated and fresh in their minds.

How has the Chengdu store’s unique design played a role in your customers’ experience?

The forerunner store in Chengdu differs greatly from all of our other Swarovski stores in China. We designed it to provide customers with the most intelligent shopping experience available. It not only provides a virtual jewellery try-on area but also an interactive selfie area, with the Chinese Year of the Pig as the main theme at this moment, where consumers may conveniently and instantly share their photos on social platforms.

The services available, including an independent gift-wrapping area, are also unparalleled. Swarovski’s resident stylist has excellent taste and has received professional training to observe consumer preferences and to offer a personalised styling service to everyone for a gorgeous look.

How do you continue to market lower-priced goods without jeopardising the high-end product line?

In Swarovski, we have a clear positioning and product segmentation to fulfil consumers’ needs on different occasions. The differentiation is not coming from price, but the value we provide to consumers. We have great product stories to echo the emotional needs of women, while our products catch their eyes once they see them.

Besides your “Be Swarovski” membership programme, which offers exclusive gifts, rewards, and insider-only events, what else are you doing to create a sense of loyalty among Chinese consumers?

Swarovski has a rich 124-year history. We started with crystal home products, and from there, we have continually developed new products for an ever-increasing global clientele. In China, fashion jewellery is a major business category. Our sparkling crystals and our extraordinary craftsmanship are Swarovski’s unique selling points and benefits we offer our target audience. All of our products complement each other, fulfilling Swarovski as a lifestyle brand and its consumers’ desire to sparkle in every occasion; that’s where the loyalty comes from.

Click here to read the original article and to subscribe to Jing Daily.

*This article was originally published by the much-respected JING DAILY, a Moodie Davitt Report content partner.